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Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/4/18 5:00 AM
I am working my way through Mastering the Core Teachings and have arrived at the section on the Three Characteristics (pg 41 in my book).

DM is making constant reference to things ‘vibrating’ - but try as I might I just don’t understand what he’s trying to get at!

As a physicist who specialised (eventually) in neurophysiology I have no problem with the concept that all things are in motion and that such motion can be described as a vibration. Indeed theories which examine the ‘ultimate’ nature of reality suggest that there is only vibration, it is the the vibration of something called the quantum field which gives rise to all phenomena. But I don’t think this is what DM is talking about.

It seems as though he is referring to something at a perceptual level - but what? I don’t perceive anything vibrating at this level. My attention wanders from one point to another but, after some training, this wandering is fairly slow (perhaps tens of minutes) and would never be described as a vibration, so it can’t be that.

When I perceive something it doesn’t ‘obviously’ vibrate (I say that because of course both light and sound are vibrations albeit vibrations of totally different materials).

So what is it that is vibrating? I just don’t understand!

Can anyone help please? 

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/4/18 8:06 AM as a reply to Neil Cavanagh.
Hi Neil!

I remember wondering this very same thing at the beginning! To me,vibrations are the ever changing sensations that I detect when sitting in meditation and focusing on the sensation. The most obvious example would the these buzzing sensations and tingling feelings that I would feel somatically on my body, this is the first thing I notice and the vibrations were quite strong, but they could have been related to some phase like the A&P event. Now the vibratory effect is much much more subtle  The other example would be vibrations in the breath, in the sense that if I am aware of the breath, each inhale and exhale seem to consist of four different periods. It's a feeling of some sort, and it comes together with a visual sense of something *rising, falling, being completely away for a moment * and this sequence marked with *...* would repeat three-four times during each inhale or exhale. And also, if I consider hearing and I'm trying to listen to some continuous sound like a distant hum it is as if the hearing if fractured into smalle bits. And it has nothing to do with the sound source being periodic, it's more like feature of hearing itself. In hearing the "frequency" of the vibration is higher for me, than in the case of breath.

So that is my take!

My overall impression is that often in MCTB things are described in a manner that you might not at first realize how they are related to your own experience. Partly because the effects are quite subtle and it's not obvious from the writing that Daniel is often describing subtle things (which can become more prominent on retreats with increased concentration, for example). So they can easily be missed but knowing and reading about them helps. And keeping a constant practise where one keeps on checking first hand how things actually are with the most sincerity you can muster!

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/4/18 9:00 AM as a reply to Neil Cavanagh.
You are correct that he is describing something that occurs at the perceptual level and not anything abstract. Basically, when the mind gains enough speed and clarity then you are able to perceive the vibrations. But until then, you can't.

It's kind of like looking at a television screen from 6 feet away--you will see images, pictures. For example, video of kids on a merry-go-round. But get right close to the television with your eyes just a few inches away, and then you can see that actually the images are made up of all these tiny pixels, constantly shifting in color and brightness. So by doing practices that increase speed and clarity of perception, it's kind of like cultivating a telescope or microscope that allows you to observe things that you couldn't before.

Many people seem to have a lot of success in speeding up the mind using the noting technique as described in the book. A little exercise that might possibly be helpful would be to close your eye and just focus on the sensations at the tip of your index finger. Are they static? Are they moving? How many times per second can you feel sensations in that one small restricted area? As you know from your neurophysiology studies, the fingertips are highly innervated and so there's a lot of sensory acuity there which can give you a taste of what it's like to be able to perceive vibratory patterns through the entire sensory field (or at least give you some personal confirmation that it's possible).

The bottom line is practice, though. It's a skill just like any other--the first time we tried to ride a bike, it seemed impossible. Eventually, it's just a habit and doesn't seem like anything special at all.

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/4/18 9:39 AM as a reply to Neil Cavanagh.
It might also be helpful to choose a sense door to work with that you have an affinity for. Some people have very sensitive hearing, some have a stronger visual sense etc. If you're a musician then working with sound (tinnitus for example) might be more profitable, if you're an artist then visual methods like fire kasina might work better. Personally sound "broke up" much more easily than other sensory data, which then made it easier to do the same with other sense doors. However, don't bounce around too much. Pick one and keep at it until you can recognize the strobing/vibration.

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/4/18 12:27 PM as a reply to Neil Cavanagh.
Neil Cavanagh:
...
DM is making constant reference to things ‘vibrating’ - but try as I might I just don’t understand what he’s trying to get at!

As a physicist who specialised (eventually) in neurophysiology I have no problem with the concept that all things are in motion and that such motion can be described as a vibration. Indeed theories which examine the ‘ultimate’ nature of reality suggest that there is only vibration, it is the the vibration of something called the quantum field which gives rise to all phenomena. But I don’t think this is what DM is talking about.

It seems as though he is referring to something at a perceptual level - but what? I don’t perceive anything vibrating at this level. My attention wanders from one point to another but, after some training, this wandering is fairly slow (perhaps tens of minutes) and would never be described as a vibration, so it can’t be that.

When I perceive something it doesn’t ‘obviously’ vibrate (I say that because of course both light and sound are vibrations albeit vibrations of totally different materials).


I remember writing DI with a similar line: "I'm an engineer, I know what vibrations are, and there ain't no vibrations going in here!" emoticon

After another several months of sitting practice (an hour twice a day) my experience started changing. Maybe the first vibration I was aware of was, reading a book when the light was such that there was a band of darkness along the spine of the book where the left half and the right half of the book joined, I noticed in my peripheral vision that the darkness was throbbing around 2 Hz. 

Later, a ~2 Hz throbbing near the bridge of my nose in the morning when I woke.

Later it was kind of like static in my optical circuits when in sitting meditation, ~1 second ~10Hz bursts of flashes that could easily be described as vibrations.

Later still, it's a matter of much much large periodic discontinuities of experience that make it super obvious that all that "no vibration here" experience is really just somehow resting in a memory or dream or a logic loop about things, that the real data in the machinery (senses) is transient, not static.  

Some advise I found helpful, perhaps in DI's book is something like: get calm, get focused on one thing in particular, spend 45-60 minutes there.  Remain open enough to notice the vibratory phenomena in sense channels that you might of not even been aware of. If you detect any hint of transients or vibration, shift awareness there to see what's going on. The mind has powerful ability to fabricate a story that captivates attention and completely masquerades as reality. I guess everybody's mind is different; the chink in the armor of the masquerade might be unpredictable, so you just have to be open the possibilities.

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/4/18 2:00 PM as a reply to Neil Cavanagh.
Wow - I am absolutely overwhelmed with the information given in the replies. Every single answer has given me something to think about. 

I think I am seeing that I am approaching this issue from a typical ‘standard’ point of view, which isn’t helped by having a science training. In other words because I am so used to thinking about vibrations in a particular way and because these types of vibrations don’t appear in any science text book, I couldn’t understand where they were coming from, nor what they could be.

After reading all your replies I get the point that I need to stop being so fixed in my view and open to examining a new phenomenon, one which, I am just beginning to access. This is wonderful actually.

During my last mediation I used the advice to focus on the sensations arising in my hands and was amazed at what I experienced. I found a whole host of events which I hadn’t ever realised existed! This experience spread from both hands and into my forearms. Completely new, completely unexpected - and so strange. 

There was, perhaps, a hint of a vibration being associated with this experience but now I think, thanks to you guys, I know what I need to open to in my meditations. So thank you very much!

Back to reading DI’s book now I guess - and much more practise, patience and openness!

Thank you. 

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/4/18 4:54 PM as a reply to Neil Cavanagh.
These are my $0.02, for what it's worth.  I make no great claims to attainments and can only speak from my personal limited experience, but like you, reading the book at first, it was never clear to me what Daniel meant by "vibrations," nor do I think we're alone in this confusion.  The book has some powerful information in it, but it is also often idiosynchratic and unclear to beginners... or even to more experienced practitioners.

As best I can tell, the book uses the single term "vibrations" to describe two phenomena.  There is the flux of all our sensory information which in vipassana you attempt to percieve moment to moment directly in the present.  When rapidly noting, you might note "feeling" from your left index finger, then in the next note "nothing" from the finger in the next instant, then "feeling" from the finger an instant later, etc.  Information in your concious field is in constant flux, and this can be percieved directly once you reach as reasonable speed in your noting.  The more quickly you note, the more finely this flux can be percieved.

That being said, after doing vipassana for some time, I began to experience another phenomenon when I attained access concentration that can be more directly described as the perception of vibration.  This percieved vibration changed with progression through the nanas in a manner similar to the way Daniel describes in his book, and I would not equate (at my level) this perception of vibration with a meta-characteristic of the concious field.

TLDR; it's probably something you just have to experience for yourself.

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/6/18 1:11 PM as a reply to Neil Cavanagh.
Vibration is caused by part of brain discharing. If for example part of braion which generate position is being affected by such discarche it will create impression that position is changing or vibrating. If it influence touch sensations it will be experienced as touch, sight as some buzz, vision as noise, etc.

Then there is stored impression. Something might seems like vibrating or happening but it is actually just impression and should part of this experience be confronted by refreshing it it would seem it is nothing like it seemed to be before. Meaning... something happened, was 'recorded' and is just replayed in a loop.

This is significant because most suffering is like that. There can be physical pain experienced where place in body it is supposedly refering to is no longer generating it and nothing except experiencing actual state is necessary.

This also hints at far more reaching possibilities for those with wilder imagination. Low effort bliss by generating it once and just experiencing for hours... why not?

Mastering this stuff is also important if you want to learn to use senses properly, albeit this topic is much more advanced...

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/6/18 1:30 PM as a reply to Bored Vacuum.
@Bored Vacuum, could you elaborate on what you meant by "learn to use sense properly" and/or direct to some resources about it? 

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/6/18 2:18 PM as a reply to Victor.
Victor:
@Bored Vacuum, could you elaborate on what you meant by "learn to use sense properly" and/or direct to some resources about it? 
I meant 'senses', like physical senses.
Using senses, memory, intellect, etc. is something people need to learn.

Unfortunately this does not exist in collective consciousness and there is no sources that I know of to which I can point to.

So how did I get to know this?
Old fashioned way...

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/7/18 1:51 AM as a reply to Bored Vacuum.
Forgive me Bored Vacuum but I understood very little of what you said. It all sounded very contrived to me.

What do you mean by the ‘brain discharging’? Discharging what? 

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/7/18 11:50 AM as a reply to Neil Cavanagh.
I'm guessing he's discussing "action potential", where nerves etc are triggered, discharge, and then reset so they can be fired again. Regarding loops, he's not wrong. As an example when you feel pain it usually feels like a constant flow of painful sensation, but if you pay close enough attention it feels more like <CLICK>gap<CLICK>gap<CLICK>gap, where there are very short painful sensations with a gap in between. That gap in between gets filled in when we're not paying attention, and we experience the "stored impression" instead. At any given moment a huge percentage of what we experience is that "stored impression" loop.

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/7/18 5:41 PM as a reply to Lars.
These 'stored' impressions can range from convincing but merely a flat and non-interactive image to spectacle that is definitely being overdrawn and over-designed for the purpose they have.

First ones can be reprogrammed if tou know assembler and are good programmer.
Second ones can be played like games.

Did I mention DNA yet? Maybe I shoud not... better not open pandora boxes XD

EDIT://
This can opener was not sharp ennough. Here is better: memories are stored as strings of RNA floating in your brain, RNA is made from DNA, DNA changes, RNA reprogram neurons to fire in certain patterns and this is how it recreates remembered states

this is 'insight' to get from meditation, if anyone wondered...

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/8/18 5:03 AM as a reply to Neil Cavanagh.
After some 'thinking', some reading of comments and some meditation, I think I have a simple soltuion to my initial question. It basically comes down to, as someone once said, a 'terminological inexactitutde'.

The word 'vibration' is misleading - a better word would be pulse, or pulses. Moreover I also believe there is a very simple neurological explanation for the phenomenon.

To keep things very basic and simple, the brain is continually examining and filtering the stream of data that is arising from the senses. It has to do this to cope with an otherwise overwhelming amount of data that is attemtping to enter and be processed by the brain. Although it varies, a figure of around 98% of all input data is rejected before it receives any serious processing and well before it is transfered to the region where conscious arises. In fact there is some very neat 'wiring architecture' built into the sensory system which helps to facilitate this filtering eg retina cells are connected in such a way that the edges of objects are automatically enhanced. Also nerves use both spatial and temporal summation from individual neurons to 'decide' the strength and hence importance of a signal.

Once allowed through and processed the data, be it from the senses or from memory, or other parts of the brain has to travel along a large bundle of nerve fibres which start at the back to the brain and move forwards to end in the frontal cortex, the region associated with consciousness. However during this process the brain has to 'scan' the inputs and allocate each input a fixed time to send its message into the frontal areas. If you like each input is sampled and then sent forwards using a discrete transmission instead of a continuous one - again this happens because the bandwidth of the fibre bundle is limited and not all the data cannot be sent all the time. This sampling process results in a 'pulse' of data being sent.

However, the amount of sampling time any given input signal will receive and hence the frequency of the pulses depends on many factors such as how important is it?, what else is happening?, how much attention is being paid to it?, etc., etc.. This explains why the pulses (vibrations) can change even for the same signal.

Put this lot together and what you have is that during periods of heightened awareness of this sampling of the 'pulses' of data can be perceived.

My sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to the above conclusion.

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/8/18 6:06 AM as a reply to Neil Cavanagh.
Neil, good model/thoughts. Hopefully you can also see that the domain of meditation paradoxically breaks down the pulse model at the same time it sees it more clearly.

A premise of the pulse model is that there is a standalone mind/watcher/self that is aware of the pulses. (In other words, pulses are independent events, measured against something constant. But any evidence of something constant, a stand alone mind/watcher/self, is seen with more clarity to be simply more pulses. 

So it's an interesting paradox where sensory clarity undermines the intuitive sense of an independent self.

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/8/18 6:53 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Oh, I don’t put forward any model as an absolute - it is simply from where I currently stand - ‘things’ are not believed because they are true, just that they make sense.

Pulses watching pulses - fine by me. 

Ultimately nothing that can spoken nor written is true is it? 

The only reason for writing is that maybe, just maybe, it might enable someone else to take a small step - and if it doesn’t, so be it.

As the Buddha suggested, use a raft for crossing water then throw it away. I am very happy to throw away all these words and ideas.

But thanks for the advice.emoticon

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
9/18/18 3:37 AM as a reply to Bored Vacuum.
Bored Vacuum:
This can opener was not sharp ennough. Here is better: memories are stored as strings of RNA floating in your brain, RNA is made from DNA, DNA changes, RNA reprogram neurons to fire in certain patterns and this is how it recreates remembered states


The second type of stored impressions are a little more obvious now, i'd recognized them before but hadn't investigated them much. However if you're suggesting that you can reprogram RNA/DNA then a little practical advice would be useful. Are you talking about using attention selectively to "overwrite" loops etc?

RE: Things Vibrating?
Answer
12/11/18 1:04 PM as a reply to Neil Cavanagh.
Hi! If you perceive pulses in your sensory experiences, that counts. I do that too sometimes. Mostly I litterally perceive vibrations, though. Like a vibrant flow of energy, if that makes any sense. I know it sounds goofy and new agey, but that is what I perceive. Sometimes I also experience waves which are in turn made up by smaller oscillations. I did that yesterday; my face kind of dissolved into those sensations. It started with some tingling and what first seemed like pulses, but when I tuned into the pulses it turned out that they were not binary and flat but rather constantly rising and falling, hence waves. And then the waves had smaller waves in them too, as I tuned in closer. Andomeda’s comparison to a TV image is very spot on. The closer you perceive, the more the image dissolves. I have no idea how that relates to physical science, and maybe it’s not that important. As I understand it, this is not about ontology, but epistemology. 

In one of your comments you mentioned sensations in your hands. That is probably a good way for you to start, then. It is for me too. That is where I usually begin to feel a vibrating energy. If I tune into that, it may increase. After a while the sensation of vibrations is so strong that I no longer feel my hands as hands. It’s like they have transformed into vibrations. The first time I experienced that, as a teenager playing around with relaxation exercises before sleeping, I found it so creepy that I actually avoided meditation for a couple of decades. Now I think it’s really cool.